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Posts in Copyright

‘Holding States Accountable for Copyright Piracy’: White Paper Says Allen v. Cooper Has Put Creators and Copyright in Jeopardy

Last week, the Regulatory Transparency Project of the Federalist Society released a paper titled “Holding States Accountable for Copyright Piracy.” The paper was authored by Alden Abbott, Kevin Madigan, Adam Mossoff, Kristen Osenga, and Zvi Rosen and noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that “copyright is the engine of free expression that supplies the economic incentive to create and disseminate ideas.” However, citing Allen v. Cooper, the paper explained that a recent Supreme Court decision has jeopardized the U.S. copyright system by “severely limiting” the ability of creators and copyright owners to hold states accountable for infringement by holding that states can escape accountability for intentional acts of infringement by invoking the doctrine of sovereign immunity. The paper further emphasized the injustice that Allen has brought forth, since current law allows states to claim the benefits of copyright protection for their own works and works transferred to them, while escaping liability when they infringe the copyrights of others. Solutions were proposed to level the playing field, including Congress enacting a law validly abrogating state sovereign immunity and waiving sovereign immunity for states acting as market participants.

The Common Thread of Innovation Ecosystems: Securing Ownership to Guarantee Creation

Over the past several weeks, it has been our pleasure at IPWatchdog to be a media sponsor for the excellent programming on intellectual property and the innovation ecosystem produced by the Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The last in the series, an overview of the common thread running through innovation ecosystems, took place on Wednesday, April 28. “One thing we all have in common is that everyone wants more innovation and creativity to meet societal challenges, never more so than in a pandemic,” Patrick Kilbride, Senior Vice President for Global Innovation Policy at the United States Chamber of Commerce, told IPWatchdog following the conclusion of the Innovation Ecosystem series. “Sustaining the global middle class through COVID will require a steep trajectory of innovation. Our experience working with businesses of every size and sector, and governments around the world, shows intellectual property rights as a central enabler of innovation.”

Open for Business: How Intellectual Property Supports Our Entrepreneurs

Starting a business is steeped with uncertainty, especially during a global pandemic. Small business owners are constantly running through the scenarios: Can I make payroll? Will I recoup my investment? Can I change my community for the better? There are plenty of systems at play that tell them, “No.” It’s too difficult to get a loan; the commercial real estate market is too competitive; advertising and marketing is too expensive. Even so, there’s one system that sings a resounding, “Yes!” That’s America’s intellectual property system.

Copyrights Help SMEs Bring Their Ideas to Market – Especially if They’re Registered

Discussion around intellectual property strategies for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) often focus chiefly on patent and trademarks. But the benefits of copyright to a small business should not be underestimated. Copyrights protect the expression of ideas in works that are tangible. Copyrightable subject matter is very broad—all “original works of authorship, fixed in a tangible medium” are protected immediately from creation. The U.S. Copyright Office lists these categories as subject to copyright protection: literary works, musical works, performing arts, visual arts, other digital content (including computer software code), motion pictures, photographs, sound recordings, and architectural works. 17 U.S.C. Section 102.

Non-Fungible Tokens Force a Copyright Reckoning

From the advent of the internet, digital commodities and technologies have ceaselessly presented new hurdles for intellectual property (IP) owners and protectors. The cycle of copyright law trying, and generally failing, to adapt and keep pace with emerging technology has meant copyright stakeholders have been always at a disadvantage because legal enforcement lagged so far behind innovative infringement. But during a year in which vast swaths of life moved online, the internet has forged and driven to prominence a powerful new tool for protecting copyright owners’ unique assets: the non-fungible token (NFT).

Fueled by BTS and K-pop, South Korea’s IP Economy is Thriving

The arts and entertainment industry has boosted South Korea’s economy and produced some of the country’s key products and exports. The country’s population of 51 million people was the sixth largest music market in the world in 2020, according to IFPI’s Global Music Report 2021. Also in 2020, South Korea had a $160 million surplus in cultural and arts intellectual property (IP)-related assets trade, according to South Korea’s Maeil Business Newspaper. It was the first time a surplus in such a category was registered. However, entertainment-related IP assets have been big Korean exports for years: in 2019, the country exported $8.62 billion in copyright-protected content, according to Yonhap News Agency. South Korea also has proven itself to be a prolific environment for creating music, film, content, and experiences for fans, and also to be great at making the most of their intangible assets through IP strategies.

The View from the Court’s 2 Live Crew: Examining the Thomas/Alito Dissent in Google v. Oracle

Most commentators agree that Google v. Oracle is the most important copyright decision of the last 25 years (since Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music). But what if the Court got it wrong?  The Court has not always done well with issues of technology (the Sony v. Universal “Betamax” case being an exception), and the majority decision in Google v. Oracle appears to be more of the same. For many reasons, the powerful dissent from Justices Thomas and Alito may be the better opinion.

The Upshot of Google v. Oracle: An Absurd Ruling Will Lead to Absurd Results

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, or so states Newton’s third law of motion. It is safe to say that Newton never met an intellectual property lawyer, and he never had to deal with the whims and fancy of an arbitrary and capricious Supreme Court. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated decision in Google v. Oracle, in which the Court ruled that Google’s intentional copying of 11,500 lines of computer code from Oracle was a fair use despite the fact that Google made many tens of billions of dollars in the process, and despite the fact that the record showed that Google consciously chose to copy, rather than independently create, because programmers were already familiar with the 11,500 lines of code they wanted to take.

Stakeholders Speak Out on Google v. Oracle

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling that still has many in the intellectual property world reeling—and not just copyright practitioners. The Court found a way to both accept without examination the Federal Circuit’s holding that the declaring code copied by Google was copyrightable and to reverse the Federal Circuit’s ruling in favor of Oracle, explaining that Google met the fair use exception to copyright law. The Court did this in part by asserting that computer programs are different when it comes to copyright protection, and further from “the core of copyright” than other kinds of works.

Second Circuit: Museum’s Online Exhibit Featuring ‘Frankenstein’ Guitar Photo was Fair Use

On Friday, April 2, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a Summary Order affirming a district court’s finding that the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s use of a photographer’s photo on its website to illustrate a museum exhibit constituted a fair use. The photo was taken by Lawrence Marano in 1982 and depicted Eddie Van Halen playing his iconic “Frankenstein” guitar. The Metropolitan Museum featured the photograph on its website as part of an exhibit of rock n’ roll instruments. Marano initially brought his complaint against the museum in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in 2019, and the court dismissed it in 2020 for failure to state a claim, “finding that Marano had ‘failed to show why the Met’s use of [the Photo] is not protected by the fair use exception.’”

License to Copy: Your Software Code Isn’t Safe After Google v. Oracle

In characteristic form, the Supreme Court has once again managed to blow it in another intellectual property case. This time, the Justices blessed Google’s copying of Oracle’s code and called it fair use despite the fact that Google copied that portion of the Sun Java API that allowed programmers to use the task-calling system that was most useful to programmers working on applications for mobile devices. In the infinite wisdom of the Supreme Court, the copying of this code was found transformative because Google only used it to circumvent the need to license Java from Oracle with respect to Android smartphones. Of course, that isn’t exactly how the Supreme Court characterized it, but make no mistake, that is what they decided.

Computer Programs are Different, Says SCOTUS in Landmark Ruling that Google’s Use of Oracle’s API Packages Was Fair

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning found Google’s use of Oracle’s Java application programming interface (“API packages”) a fair use as a matter of law, with Justices Thomas and Alito dissenting. The decision reverses a 2018 Federal Circuit ruling in favor of Oracle. Google appealed that decision to the Supreme Court in January 2019, and three attorneys made arguments to the High Court in October 2020: Thomas Goldstein of Goldstein & Russell argued for Google; Joshua Rosenkranz of Orrick argued for Oracle; and Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stuart argued on behalf of the U.S. Government. Although the justices’ questioning at that hearing seemed skeptical of Google’s arguments, it also revealed that the Court wanted to avoid upending industry practices in computer programming.

Second Circuit Delivers Blow for Fair Use in Warhol’s Prince Photograph Case

On March 26, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York’s decision that Andy Warhol’s Prince Series constituted fair use of Lynn Goldsmith’s photograph, holding that “the district court erred in its assessment and application of the fair-use factors and the works in question do not qualify as fair use.” The Court of Appeals further concluded that the Prince Series works were substantially similar to the Goldsmith Photograph “as a matter of law.” In 1981, Defendant-Appellant Lynn Goldsmith (Goldsmith) took several photographs of the then up-and-coming musical artist Prince Rogers Nelson (Prince). In 1984, Goldsmith’s agency, Defendant-Appellant Lynn Goldsmith, Ltd. (LGL) licensed one of the photographs from the 1981 photoshoot to Vanity Fair magazine “for use as an artist reference.” Unbeknownst to Goldsmith and LGL, the artist who used her photo as inspiration was Andy Warhol, and not only did he use her photo for inspiration for the image Vanity Fair commissioned, but he continued to create an additional 15 works, which are known as the “Prince Series.”

Reverse Engineering and the Law: Understand the Restrictions to Minimize Risks

Fundamental to building and executing any successful patent licensing program is the ability to find and prove evidence of infringement, often through reverse engineering methods. A product is purchased and deconstructed to understand how it was built, how it works and what it is made of. The process of reverse engineering usually involves multiple types of analysis; which type of reverse engineering to apply is determined by the type of technology and the industry in which the patented invention is being used.   Intellectual property law does not discourage innovators from dismantling the inventions of their competitors, whether the technology is software, electronic, chemical, or mechanical. But there are still limits on how the results of a reverse engineering effort can be exploited.

Copyright Holders Can Restrict Framing, Says CJEU

Copyright holders can require licensees to implement technical measures to prevent infringement, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has ruled in its latest decision on the “right of communication to the public” in EU copyright law. (Case C-392/19 VG Bild-Kunst v. Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz.) The Court’s Grand Chamber, comprising 15 judges, gave its ruling on questions referred from Germany in a dispute between a copyright collecting society for visual art, VG Bild-Kunst, and Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (SPK), a cultural heritage foundation that operates a digital library called Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek. The digital library includes thumbnails of images and links to the institution providing the subject matter.